Raising baby chicks is a big responsibility and requires special skills and tools to keep them safe and help them grow well. From the moment they hatch until they grow up, baby chicks need a lot of care, and it can be confusing to find the right things to take care of them.
It’s important to have the right chick-raising supplies because not having them can cause serious problems. That’s why I made a list of all the important things you need to raise baby chicks successfully. I put together this list carefully to ensure you have everything you need to give your little chicks the best start in life.
1. Chick Brooder
Creating a safe, warm, and secure environment is the first step in raising baby chicks, and this should be ready before the chicks arrive and the brooder area serves just this purpose.
There are several types of brooders available, depending on your specific needs and budget:
- Pre-fabricated Brooders: These are ready-made brooders available at feed and farm supply stores. They come in various sizes, some of which include built-in heating elements for added convenience.
- DIY Brooders: If you’re feeling creative, it is a good idea to just design and build your own brooders. Materials like cardboard box, plastic tote or tubs, or even a kiddie pool can serve as the base. Ensure that the sides are high enough to prevent chicks from jumping out and that it’s secure enough to keep potential predators at bay.
No matter what kind of place you use to keep the baby chicks warm, it’s important to put it in a spot where there is no wind. Chicks can get cold easily, especially when they are still very young, so it’s important to protect them from drafts and changes in temperature during their first few weeks.
For the well-being of your chicks, each one should be provided with at least 2 square feet of space. This is to prevent overcrowding, which can lead to health issues and aggressive behavior among chicks. Remember, as they grow, they’ll need even more space, so plan accordingly.
2. Essential Heat Source
Providing a consistent heat source is crucial when raising chicks. Naturally, they would huddle under their mother hen for warmth; however, when nurturing chicks yourself, you must ensure they receive constant heat.
Recommended Heat Sources:
- Brinsea Eco Glow – Despite its high price, this heat source is a reliable, safe, and long-term investment for chick-raising.
- Heat Lamp – An alternative option, but it requires close attention due to fire risks associated with misuse. If using a brooder lamp, ensure it’s securely fastened, and a protective cage is installed over the bulb. It’s also suggested to cover the top of your brooder with chicken wire or hardware cloth to catch the lamp if it falls.
Discouraged Heat Sources:
- Wood Stove – Requires constant monitoring due to unpredictable heat fluctuations.
- Heating Pad – Generally inadequate in maintaining the necessary warmth, often has automatic shut-offs, and could be a potential fire hazard if left on constantly.
- Space Heater – Consumes high energy, uneven heat distribution, and potential for auto shut-off.
3. Chick Waterer
For the first week or two, simple Mason jar bases are sufficient as chick waterers. As chicks grow, these jars will need more frequent refilling. I suggest using two half-gallon Mason jars with bases for every 25 chicks, refilling them every two or three days.
The bases should feature a small trough so the chicks can drink without the risk of falling in and becoming chilled, which could be fatal.
As the chicks get larger, they can handle a gallon-sized or larger waterer. After about two weeks, transition to a 5-gallon metal waterer. Place the waterers on a wood or other elevated surface to keep bedding from contaminating the water.
4. Chick Bedding
Bedding or litter is a necessity in every brooder box to absorb manure and provide a comfortable space for your chicks. It should be safe, easily replaceable, absorbent, and comfortable.
Pine shavings are our go-to option for brooder bedding due to their cost-effectiveness and the comfort they provide to the chicks. There are other options as well.
Recommended Litter Options:
- Pine or Aspen shavings
- Hemp bedding
Discouraged Litter Options:
- Cat Litter – Chicks may consume it, it’s dusty and it’s unhealthy for them.
- Flat or Shredded Newspaper – Lacks absorbency, which can lead to leg and toe issues.
- Paper Towels – Expensive and requires frequent replacement.
- Cedar Shavings – Overly aromatic, could cause respiratory issues.
5. Chick Feeder
While a chick feeder isn’t strictly necessary as a chick-raising supply, it can save you money in the long run. Feeding chicks out of a ceramic bowl often leads to wasted feed, as chicks like to kick feed out of the bowl or use it for dust baths, spreading the feed all over the brooder.
Chick feeders are designed with small holes from which the chicks can eat, preventing them from kicking out the feed. Investing in a chick feeder can prove worthwhile, as it can last for many years and reduce your feed expenses.
A thermometer is an essential chick-raising supply in maintaining the appropriate temperature in the brooder. The temperature should be around 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit at first. Even though it may not seem like a big deal, having a thermometer can help stop the chicks from getting too hot or too cold, which can be dangerous and even cause them to die.
Here’s a simple method to gauge if your chicks are comfortable:
- If your chicks are moving around, chirping, and sleeping together, they’re at a comfortable temperature.
- If they’re huddled near the heat lamp, they’re too cold.
- If they’re panting, they’re too hot. Sometimes, if the temperature is too high, they’ll huddle as far away from the heat lamp as possible.
Incorporating a thermometer in your brooder setup can help ensure the well-being of your chicks.
7. Chick Starter
High-quality chick starter feed is crucial for your baby chicks’ nutrition. It’s important to follow the feeding guidelines provided by the feed manufacturer because the food changes as they grow.
The chick starter feed comes in two types, with medicine and without medicine. If the chicks already got a special shot at where they were born to protect them from a sickness called coccidiosis, you don’t need to give them the medicated feed. But if they didn’t get the shot, you might want to use the medicated feed to keep them safe.
8. Starter Feed
Baby chicks need special chick feed because the food for adult chickens isn’t good for them. That’s why the chicks need to be kept away from the grown-up chickens for some time. The chick feed often has medicine in it to protect the chicks from getting sick because they can easily catch diseases.
But it’s also okay to choose chick feed without medicine if you prefer. There are many kinds of chick feed without medicine that you can choose from. It’s up to each chicken keeper to decide what they think is best for their chicks.
9. Chick Supplements
Chicks sometimes need extra things called supplements to make sure they get all the important stuff they need, like vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. These things help them grow strong bones, have a good immune system, and digest their food better. But it’s really important to use supplements carefully and with help from a vet so that they don’t get too much of certain things and cause problems with their health.
10. Roosting Place
Creating a suitable place for chicks to roost is essential as they grow. You can either make a DIY roost using sturdy dowels or branches securely fastened in their coop or purchase a pre-made one.
Roosting off the ground in their coop provides chickens with a sense of security, warmth, and the opportunity to huddle together. It’s important to ensure the roosting area is spacious enough for all the chicks to perch comfortably without overcrowding. A clean and comfortable roosting space contributes to their overall well-being, allowing them to develop their roosting skills while providing a protective and cozy environment.
Conclusion: Baby Chick Supplies
Having the right baby chick supplies is essential for successfully raising baby chicks. This complete list of must-have chicks supplies ensures that their basic needs for warmth, food, water, and safety are met. With these essential chick-raising supplies, you can embark on an enjoyable and rewarding journey of raising happy and thriving baby chicks.